Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Florida Last In Stimulus Dollars

Charles Dharapak

Charles Dharapak

Despite Charlie Crist’s very public embrace of Barack Obama and Obama’s federal stimulus plan, Florida ranks dead last in dollars received per person according to a study by the Palm Beach Post.  Crist’s endorsement of the stimulus, which brought the Governor considerable heat from deficit hawks within his own party, gave the President a much-needed bipartisan boost as he sold the plan to the American public earlier this year.  That involvement seems not to have paid off to many Floridians.

Florida TaxWatch’s Dominic Calabro placed the blame on Florida’s elected officials.  In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, Calabro alleged that the low return per resident showed “how inept Florida’s government officials are.”

The Post questions the ability of the stimulus to improve Florida’s unemployment rate—something the President promised would be a result when he touted the stimulus in a Florida stop in February.

The low distribution has left many Floridians confused and left the President potentially vulnerable in a battleground state.  Read the Post’s article in its entirety here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , ,

FL House Votes Down Stimulus Money

From the St. Pete Times:

The House just voted unanimously to extend the length of unemployment benefits up to 20 weeks, but after an emotionally partisan debate Republicans rejected $444 million in federal stimulus dollars to expand who is eligible for compensation.

Democrats assailed the move as heartless and misguided, saying the state can scale back on eligibility after the crisis has passed. Republicans suggested that would be “fraud” and said the expansion would cost businesses more and hurt the economic recovery. The Democratic amendment failed 45-70.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, ,

JaxPort Wins Federal Stimulus Dollars

From The Florida Times-Union:

A project to deepen Jacksonville’s ship channel scooped up $14.8 million from the federal government’s stimulus package, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today.

The money will help pay for deepening a 5.3 mile stretch of the river up to the Talleyrand terminal. Jacksonville Port Authority Executive Director Rick Ferrin said the deeper water will make it possible for ships calling on Talleyrand to arrive and depart with more cargo on board. The depth after deepening will be 40 feet, according to the Army Corps, which will match the depth for 14.7 miles of channel from Atlantic Ocean.

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FL House GOP Ready to Reject Some Stimulus Money

Their decision places them at odds with Gov. Crist and the GOP-dominated Senate, but they appear unwilling to compromise at this point:

House Republican leaders say they’re willing to accept most of the $2.9 billion in economic stimulus money Congress made available to Florida to help laid-off workers.

“Most” means everything but the $444 million in unemployment compensation money Gov. Charlie Crist and Senate Republicans want to spend to expand the number of people who would qualify for the checks in Florida.

Taking the money would require the state to pay roughly $70 million through the end of 2009 as its contribution to the program, but also potentially carries greater costs because the federal money only pays for the extra checks for two months, House staff said. It could also hasten the depletion of the state’s unemployment compensation trust fund – likely triggering an increase in unemployment taxes paid by businesses. The fund is scheduled to run dry by the end of June, but expanding the pool of potential applicants for unemployment checks could drain it sooner, staff said.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , ,

Florida Stimulus Page Online

Charlie Crist has launched Florida’s Stimulus Web Site—FlaRecovery.com. As expected, pictures of the Governor are in abundance on the site. Jacksonville even managed to get a picture of the Skyway on the site. Check it out, but before you rush to congratulate the state on their openness in sharing where the stimulus money is going, remember that the web sites were federally mandated.

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Mayor Says Jacksonville In Alcoholic Stupor

What the heck does this statement mean?

Mayor John Peyton said he is not enthusiastic about the stimulus package and doubts its ability to stimulate the economy.

“Our taking part of it is like giving an alcoholic whiskey,” said Peyton, speaking at the 2009 Jaxport Logistics & Intermodal Conference.

Peyton said Jacksonville would still try to take advantage of the money available despite his concerns about the spending increasing federal debt.

By that statement, I’m guessing the Mayor is calling Jacksonville an alcoholic?  I guess he’s also admitting that he is a willing enabler?  After all, hasn’t he already held a press conference touting the benefits of the stimulus and has another one scheduled with Rep. Brown?  Does that make the Mayor and Congresswoman Brown the irresponsible bartenders that continue to liquor us up? “Hold the fiscal responsibility and pass the Wild Turkey?”

Pardon me for being quite confused here.  It almost sounds like the Mayor is speaking out of both sides of his mouth in regards to the stimulus, but certainly he would never do something like that?

Where is Susie Wiles to spin a statement when you need her?

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Charlie Crist takes dig at Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford

Charlie Crist is not going to be out-hustled by fellow GOP Governors Bobby Jindal (LA) and Mark Sanford (SC).  He’s also not going to miss an opportunity to get a little dig in on them.  From the St. Pete Times:

Gov. Charlie Crist signed the paperwork today to officially certify that Florida, like every other state, wants a piece of the federal stimulus pie. But unlike some other Republican governors (Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and South Carolina’s Mark Sanford) who bashed the stimulus on one hand while holding the other out for money from Washington, Crist was unabashedly pro-Washington money.

“I find that a little amusing,” Crist said. “I have colleagues who have at least intimated that this money from Washington is not something they welcome with open arms, yet 49 of 50 show up to get it.”

Filed under: Florida, Florida Politics, , , , , , , ,

$38 million for Jax

Where oh where will it go?  Will the city actually invest it in projects that will bring jobs or will they blow one-time stimulus money on recurring expenses?

The federal stimulus package will have at least a $38 million impact on the City of Jacksonville, said a spokeswoman for Mayor John Peyton.

The Florida Department of Transportation expects to receive funding for about $20 million worth of projects in Jacksonville, said Misty Skipper. The city expects about $12 million in funding for energy efficiency projects, but it’s not clear what types of projects are eligible.

Skipper said about $4 million will come through the state Department of Justice, and the city hopes to use it for its Jacksonville Journey program. The city will also receive about $2 million through community development block grants.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , ,

Florida Set to blow Stimulus Money

From the Palm Beach Post.

Gov. Crist and the Legislature should act as if the money from the stimulus bill is temporary, since it is. Unfortunately, the governor is acting as if the money will be permanent.

Even before he knows that the federal government will grant a waiver and let education money flow to Florida, Gov. Crist is putting his budget in turnaround before releasing it Friday. Out will be any serious budget cuts. Out will be any discussion of new revenue. In will be the lyrics to Happy Days Are Here Again, and talk of a new tax-cut proposal in 2010, when the governor is on the ballot for reelection or election to the Senate.
Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , ,

John Peyton, Beggar

Ed Gamble has the cartoon in this morning’s Times-Union.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , ,

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